Mahadayi: It is a repeat of 2002 for Karnataka

The decision of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Wednesday to keep in abeyance the “conditional clearance” given for the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project for drawing drinking water is a repeat of what had happened in 2002, when the National Democratic Alliance was in power.

While the demand for drawing water from the Mahadayi basin to the Malaprabha basin is several decades old, the Kalasa-Banduri Nala diversion project took shape in 1999 and it was in 2002 that pressure was built for approval of the project for drawing 7.56 tmcft of water from the tributaries of the Mahadayi (including the Kalasa and the Banduri nalas) to the Malaprabha basin.

However, while on April 30, 2002, the government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee cleared the project, it was kept in abeyance subsequently following Goa’s opposition to draw the Mahadayi waters.

Now, after almost 17 years, the Union government has once again done the same. In it’s letter dated October 17, 2019, in response to a letter by Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd. (KNNL), the Director of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, S. Kerketta, stated that as the Kalasa-Banduri Nala Drinking Water Supply Scheme was purely a drinking water supply scheme, it did not attract provisions of the Environment Impact Assessment notification, 2006.

The letter reached Karnataka after the political upheaval leading to the BJP to coming to power and ahead of the byelections in the State. Now, just after two months, the Union government has changed its decision, reportedly under pressure from Goa.

For drinking water

The Kalasa-Banduri Drinking Water Supply Scheme involves diversion of the west-flowing streams/nalas in the Mahadayi basin to water-deficit Malaprabha basin by constructing three diversion dams across the Haltara Nala, the Kalasa Nala and the Banduri Nala. It is proposed to divert 3.9 tmcft of water during the monsoon season through interconnecting gravity canals for crossing the ridges. The project is exclusively proposed for providing drinking water to Hubballi, Dharwad, Kundagol town, and enroute villages as part of the commitment to the National Water Policy 2012. The total cost of the project is ₹840.52 crore.

The Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal (MWDT) in its verdict on August 14, 2018 directed the Karnataka to implement the project after obtaining mandatory clearances as required by the law.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2020 6:06:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mahadayi-it-is-a-repeat-of-2002-for-karnataka/article30352233.ece

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